September 2011

Ad Clerum

Ad Clerum : 29ain Awst 2011 August 29th
Dienyddio Ioan Fedyddiwr
The Beheading of John the Baptist
Dewch i weld! (Ioan 1.39)
Come and see! (John 1.46)

Annwyl Gyfeillion,

At the end of this month, our Jewish sisters and brothers will be celebrating “Rosh Hashanah”, “the Head of the Year” – the ancient Hebrew New Year Festival. In many ways, it is a better time to celebrate New Year than our midwinter, even if it seems odd, because the harvest is moving towards completion, and there is a renewed sense of business after the (moderately) hot lazy days of August – at least in the northern hemisphere.

My own diary for September looks pretty full – what with Clergy School, Governing Body and a meeting of the Celtic Bishops to attend, and I trust that, as things get going in the parish once again, you will be blessed in all your undertakings.

I am particularly looking forward to the time the clergy will have in Oxford together in the middle of the month. Many challenges face ministry today, but if the clergy can be a team together, then we can all be stronger together in the face of those challenges.

The time in Oxford allows for just such team-building. I hope that there will be much to learn from the talented panel of guest speakers that our conference planning team have put together. But I hope as well that there will be plenty of time for laughter, fun and fellowship, so that the clergy may learn about each other, and learn to appreciate each other.

I am hoping to grow through the experience, I am hoping that we will all grow in our discipleship and spirituality, but I hope as well that friendships and growth in trust will flourish.

Reader Ministry

It seems that more questions than answers were generated in the outline of some of the aspects of Reader ministry in my last Ad Clerum. However, I wasn’t intending either there or in the Ad Clerum to be making new policies, but rather explaining what I understood to be the status quo.

In particular, the mention of a role for readers in the administration of Baptism seems to have raised questions from a number of directions. I was restating the position of the Church that, in emergencies, lay persons could administer Baptism.

It seems appropriate therefore, that Readers who are authorised and trained for ministry should be the first port of call when priests or deacons are not available to exercise this ministry. This might include circumstances where a baptism has been arranged, and suddenly the officiating priest was called away to an emergency, and no other priest could readily stand in. However, there have been questions about the range of circumstances that might apply, and the adequacy of training and preparation that Readers might need or have to be able to undertake this ministry.

There are also questions about the differentiation of ministry (There is a tendency to make all ministries conform to the priestly pattern) and the approach of the Province to this question.

I am therefore asking the Board of Ministry to give some time to thinking through these questions, given that the Board of Ministry is the body within the diocese most fitted to initiate reflection on such issues.

Education Octave

The Church in Wales now keeps the Octave of the Feast of St Cyprian (13th – 20th September) as an Education Octave. The idea is to use the eight days to form links with the schools in our parishes – whether Church or Community Schools – at a convenient point in the week. The week is designed to fall sufficiently after the start of the term for the schools to have settled in, but for the dates still to be at the beginning of school year.

Parishes and clergy may like to send a greeting to the school, invite them to church for a special celebration on 11th September, or arrange a visit from the parish to the school. The important thing is to show that the parish cares for the well-being of the school, its staff and pupils, and to build links.

Exploring Faith

For some years now, the Diocese of Bangor has run an “Exploring Faith” course, designed to encourage disciples and build up an understanding of the faith. It exists primarily for the education of any disciple in the history and theology of the Church, and is configured to make possible the award of academic qualifications through Glyndwr University.

However, it has also been a significant source of vocations to a diversity of ministries, and provided local training for those working towards licensing as Lay Readers or Ordination. St Asaph Diocese is now developing its own version of this course, and I am pleased to announce that Manon Parry is assuming the position of Director of the course. Further information will be forthcoming, but I hope very much that this course will provide a significant avenue to help the faithful of this diocese to grow in faith, and explore how to respond in service to the call of Our Lord.

South West Tanganyika

We offer our congratulations to Bishop John and Martha Simalenga on their marriage a few weeks ago, and we look forward to welcoming Canon John Kwetu and Sister Aneth to the diocese at the end of the coming month. Canon John and Sr Aneth have a packed programme during their stay of two weeks.

There will be several opportunities for members of the diocese to meet them and offer their support: on Sunday, 2nd October, our guests will be welcomed at a Service at 1100hr in Llansanffraid Ym Mechain, and on Sunday, 9th October, at a service in St Giles, Wrexham, also at 1100hr.

They will be present at the Diocesan Offering Service itself on 10th October, at 1900hr in the Cathedral. There will be an opportunity to say farewell at the Open House Eucharist in St Asaph Parish Church at 0930hr on 13th October.

Please encourage your parishioners to engage with our visitors during their stay: they have a full programme visiting deaneries in addition to the major services listed here, and there will be plenty of opportunities to learn, share and develop our link.

Ave atque Vale

Over the Summer I announced that Stephen Willson has been appointed as the new Vicar of Welshpool. Steve is currently Rector of Cyncoed in the Diocese of Monmouth, where he has had a successful and ecumenically oriented ministry. We offer him and his family a warm welcome to the diocese – Steve, who lost his first wife last year, is marrying Jennie at the beginning of October, so he will be bringing his new wife to a new world!

I am delighted that Heather Fenton has accepted my invitation to take over the Rural Life Adviser brief in the diocese. Heather has a good working knowledge of the rural world, and I am sure will do a very good job reminding us of the importance of our care for rural communities.

We have recently completed the process of appointing a permanent successor to Glenys Croft, as my Secretary here in Esgobty. I am pleased that Sian Sweeting-Jones will be joining the team here from 5th September. Sian comes to us from working for AM Janet Ryder, and in television, and is a fluent Welsh speaker – which will help me brush up my Welsh as well! I am extremely grateful to Barbara Card and Diane Morris, who have held the fort during the transition – I’m sure that we have learned to count these two as friends as well, and they have done sterling work keeping me and Michael in order.

A number of clergy retire in the course of this coming month: Peter Allsworth finishes his time in Bodelwyddan and Rhuddlan, Ron Evans in Connah’s Quay (the limited ability of the Bishop’s mental maths reduced his service of 24 years to 14 mistakenly in the last Ad Clerum), Alan Suter in Rossett, and Pam Wright in Rhos Cystennin.

For the different ways and dedicated service that they have offered in ministry to the diocese, we offer profound thanks.

Bernard Thomas retires as Archdeacon of St Asaph, of course, at the beginning of September, but remains in place in Llandwrnog and Llangwyfan in a House for Duty role. I am delighted that we’re not losing his service and hwyl in the life of the diocese just yet.

Bernard is taking one of the honorary canon’s stalls in the Cathedral, and there’ll be a bumper service in the Cathedral on the eve of the Clergy School, when we welcome him to this new role, at the same time as installing Chris Potter as Archdeacon and John Lomas as Transition Missioner. Further details below.

Bernard and Jennifer Thomas, and Shirley and Robin Griffiths are all celebrating forty years of marriage this year. We congratulate them on their Ruby Wedding Anniversaries.

Dates for the Diary

6 Septr 1030hr The Licensing of Mary Stallard as Anglican Chaplain of St Joseph’s School, and Schools Officer in Wrexham, at St Joseph’s School.

10 Septr 1400hr Mothers’ Union Gymanfa Ganu, Theatr Llwyn, Llanfyllin.

11 Septr 1030hr Confirmation in St Asaph Parish Church.

12 Septr 1800hr The Commissioning of John Lomas as Transition Missioner, the Installation of the Ven Chris Potter as Archdeacon of St Asaph and the Prebendal Stall of Llanfair, and the Installation of the Ven Bernard Thomas as Honorary Canon in the course of Evensong. There is a warm welcome to all clergy to support these colleagues as they embark on new ministry.

13 Septr Start of the Clergy Residential School in St Anne’s College, Oxford. Final details of the conference and transportation will be circulated in the very near future.

17 Septr 1400hr The Installation of the Revd Nigel Williams as Dean of St Asaph. I am sure that Nigel would welcome all the support possible for this service, and for his new ministry. By now the clergy will have received and responded to the invitations sent out from the Cathedral Office.

25 Septr Diocesan Offering Sunday – in support of the South West Tanganyika Link. Please make a special effort to support this appeal this year, so that we can send our visitors back to South West Tanganyika with good news.

8 Octr 1500 hr Induction of the Revd Hermione Long as Rector of Llanfyllin, Bwlch-y-Cibau and Llanwddyn, at St Myllin’s, Llanfyllin.

9 Octr 1400hr Diocesan Conference, Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse near Wrexham. Theme for the Conference will be: ‘What is Church For?’ The main speaker will be The Revd Robin Gamble, Diocesan Evangelist in Bradford Diocese, whom many will know from the Leading Your Church Into Growth initiative. We hope that the new location will enable easy travel for members from right across the diocese, and increased flexibility for the event itself, which will be given something of a facelift. Further details will follow.

10 Octr 1900hr Diocesan Offering Service, in the Cathedral. Canon John Kwetu and Sr Aneth will be present. This service has not attracted large congregations in recent years, but David Lewis has produced some profound and moving liturgies for the occasion. It would be good if all clergy could think about bringing even a small party of parishioners with them on this occasion.

13 Octr 1900hr Induction of David Lewis as Rector of Hawarden at St Deiniol’s Church.

15 Octr 1400hr The Induction of Steve Willson as Vicar of Welshpool, Castle Caereinion and Pool Quay at St Mary’s, Welshpool.

Notes and Queries


Our Diocesan Archivist, Clive Hughes, writes:

1. Copies of Parish Registers

It has been brought to my attention that some parishes are experiencing difficulties in obtaining facsimile copies of registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials after these have been deposited in County Record Offices.

Under agreements made between the Church in Wales and the CROs in the 1970s, they took custody of registers and automatically supplied one facsimile copy of each to the parishes concerned.

These terms were amended by a new agreement in November 2006 when the CIW made the Deanery the basic unit for determining which CRO should have custody of archives.

The new agreement contained a clause stating that automatic provision of facsimiles only applied to previous deposits, and this still applies: however, for new deposits from November 2006 onwards such facsimiles must be requested in writing at the time of deposit.

Incumbents are advised to take note of this when depositing registers in future, as with budget cutbacks the CROs may be inclined to stand on the letter of the agreement and not provide facsimiles unless these are requested exactly as above. If you are experiencing problems as regards this issue, please contact me by email.

2. Deanery and Parish Magazines and Newsletters

I have been asked to raise awareness of the historical value of Deanery and Parish Magazines and Newsletters. Some of these especially in the Victorian period were professionally printed by companies such as The Church Monthly, and consist largely of ready-supplied topical articles of general interest; but many do have local church news inserted (on pages which tend to appear at the beginning and/or end of the magazines before these were bound).

Others were entirely printed locally, and so reflect local events and issues in greater detail. The survival of these periodicals has been haphazard, and while some are found in parish collections many more have been lost to posterity.

Their value can be considerable: from one Deanery magazine it was possible to reconstruct the burials which had taken place at a church whose Burial Register was later destroyed in a fire. Another Parish magazine from the 1890s contains comments by the Vicar which suggest he had just taken his first holiday in 25 years!

Even more recent issues can contain material of historical interest.

These magazines and newsletters are well worth preserving, and the National Library of Wales is at present trying to ascertain which issues still survive.

If you would like further advice please contact me by email.

Grants for Churchyard Maintenance

Lyn Chandler at 39 Cathedral Road receives lots of applications from parishes trying to access their trust funds for churchyard maintenance and reminds us about the Welsh Church Acts Fund.

This fund has been held by your local county council since disestablishment. The fund is open to many different types of application in respect of education, relief of poverty etc, but also there is a provision for applications in respect of places of worship and burial grounds.

The trust can normally consider applications for: ‘a contribution towards the restoration and maintenance of any place of public worship or any burial ground’.

If you are not aware of this I would recommend that you contact your local county council and apply. Grants are small, but just a few hundred pounds is a big help to some of our very small parishes in relation to the burden of upkeep.


The following benefices remain, or will be, vacant, and if anyone would like to explore ministry in these places, or recommend a name, then they should contact the relevant archdeacon:
Colwyn Bay, Henllan (House for Duty), Holywell, the Llanrhaeadr YM Group (House for Duty), Llanrwst, Mold, and the Overton Group.

I look forward to our paths crossing and re-crossing this month, and offer you my continued prayers for your ministry,